For football fans across the world, a team shirt is not just an item of clothing worn by eleven players during a match, but a symbol of the team itself. ?
Having previously given a run-down of the ?50 worst football shirts at 90min, we take a trip down memory lane to look back at the most iconic shirts to have graced the beautiful game.
A singular rule applies to this list: a maximum of two shirts per club and one per country.
Let the countdown begin.
50) Getafe – 2009/10 ?
We kick things off with a kit that is downright hilarious on so many levels. Fast food and football are not exactly synonymous, but Getafe didn’t let that bother them as they chose Burger King as their main shirt sponsor.
49) Bolton – 2005/06
?This kit may not be one that will be remembered by many, but is certainly worthy of a mention given the success that Bolton, featuring the legendary Jay-Jay Okocha, enjoyed in the 2005/06 season.
After a sixth place finish the previous season, Sam Allardyce guided his side to the round of 32 of the UEFA Cup, where they were knocked out by Marseille, with a young Franck Ribery scoring the winner.
48) Rayo Vallecano – 2015/16?
Having to live in the shadow of the two much larger Clubs in Madrid I have always enjoyed the Rayo Vallecano shirts – especially with the support they have given to various initiativeshttps://t.co/T2goavHYzb
— Grant Maconachie ?????? (@GMacademic) June 27, 2019
Now this is a shirt that deserves to stand the test of time given the commendable statement Rayo made by including a rainbow strip on their away shirt in an effort to promote and support LGBT rights.
The diagonal rainbow stripe also fits in really well on a black background. Props to Vallecano.
47) Celtic – 1984/85
Though this season was not as successful in comparison to many others in Celtic’s illustrious history, it is one of the finer club strips to have been made.
The 100th Scottish Cup Final inscription, which The Bhoys won against Dundee United, is a nice vintage touch too.
46) Everton – 1984/85
This was the golden era for the Toffees as the men from the blue half of Merseyside won the league and European cup double that season.
What a kit to do it in too! What happened to white socks with hoops? They need to be
re-instated to modern kits urgently.
45) Romania – 1998 ?
A kit that wouldn’t immediately rack your brain should you see it as a stand-alone shirt, it played a key role in one of football’s most bizarre fashion statements.
Why on earth the entire Romanian team went for a bleach-blond Britpop look, like they had all simultaneously discovered Oasis for the first time, remains a confusing mystery.
44) FC Porto – 2003/04
A kit design that doesn’t get many mentions because all the focus from Porto’s Champions League tends to be on a certain Jose Mourinho, nowadays known as The Sacked After Three Seasons One.
A beautifully simple number that begs the question: What happened to regular colour schemes on modern football shirts?
43) Spain – 2010
The fact that Spain’s national anthem doesn’t have any words is unimportant for it was their players who struck fear into the opposition before kick-off.
A star-studded team featuring the likes of Iniesta, Xavi and Fernando Torres in their prime were no match for anyone else, as they won European Championships in 2008 and 2012 as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
42) Mexico – 1994
This one is just a belter all around. Realistically, the goalkeeper kit could be a stand-alone feature here. Jorge Campos’ jersey is the sort of wavy garm that attracts tourists to Camden Town like bees to honey.
41) Fulham – 2009/10
Fulham beat some seriously good teams in this outfit.
On their run to the Europa League final, they beat the previous season’s Bundesliga winners Wolfsburg and Juventus. That’s right. *Fulham* beat *Juventus*. Not bad for a team that’s crashed back down to Championship mediocrity a decade later.
40) Manchester City – 2011/12
A standard sky-blue City kit that became steeped in folklore instantaneously after a wild ending in stoppage time. A historic ?Premier League moment that will never be forgotten.
39) Juventus – 2014/15
Trademark Juve. The stripes of the Bianconeri have been all-conquering in Serie A for the best part of a decade.
However, if you refer to our ?50 worst football shirts of all time, you will see that it is possible for black and white stripes to somehow go wrong.
38) Borussia Dortmund – 2011/12
Dortmund were a fearsome proposition under Jurgen Klopp. The pace of Reus. The finish of Lewandowski. Hummels and Santana provided power and pace at the back. Fearsome.
Bizarrely enough, the black-dotted scheme under a large but not too invasive EVONIK sponsor meant this shirt was a great sum of individual parts.
37) Leicester – 2015/16
A simple kit but this was far from a simple season.
It truly was a modern sporting miracle. After scraping Premier League survival the previous season, 5000/1 outsiders Leicester City proved that dreams can come true. An unforgettable fairytale.
36) Croatia – 1998
The man, the myth, the legend. Davor Suker.
Arguably one of the most underrated footballers of modern times, Suker won the Golden Boot at France 1998 to lead his country on a memorable run as they knocked out reigning European champions Germany en-route to the semi-finals.
35) West Ham – 1980
This is just pure brilliance from the good old Adidas days.
Three stripes everywhere to be seen. Nothing overly complex, proving that simple can also mean suave on a football shirt. It is therefore fitting that the Hammers won the 1980 FA Cup in this kit.
34) Chelsea – 2005/06
Here we see the ?recently retired Arjen Robben rocking one of the finer strips to grace Stamford Bridge.
This is the shirt in which Chelsea secured back-to-back Premier League titles under Jose Mourinho. The old Umbro logo will be fondly missed.
33) Leeds – 1995/96
The LUFC scripture here does it all. Superb innovation.
The blue ‘Thistle Hotels’ sponsor perfectly complemented Leeds’ classic all-white jersey that deservedly stood the test of time.
32) Nottingham Forest – 1978/79
These were the glory days for Clough and co. at Nottingham Forest.
As the first player to be bought for £1m, Trevor Francis really must have felt like a million-dollar man in this stunning strip.
31) Roma – 2007/08
Who else could be featured in this photo other than Mr. Roma himself?
Francesco Totti may have only won one Scudetto at his boyhood club but his unparalleled loyalty is something every modern-day football fan can admire.
30) Tottenham – 1994/95
The Lilywhites had a cracking selection of kits from 1994.
Their away strip deserved no less than to be worn by one of the greats. That luxury fell to German legend Jurgen Klinsmann after he was signed from Monaco.
29) Argentina – 1994
It was a World Cup to forget for Argentina as they were dumped out in the last 16 by Romania.
However, the sight of Gabriel Batistuta in his classic no. 9 shirt is one that will live long in the memory.
28) Inter – 2009/10
This kit begs the question: Whatever happened to Inter’s famous blue and black stripes?
Led by the old war-horse Javier Zanetti, the Nerazzurri achieved an unprecedented treble in 2009/10, the only Italian side ever to do so.
27) Bayern Munich – 1971-1973
HEUTE VOR 47 JAHREN –
UNSER ERSTES SPIEL IM OLYMPIASTADION
Am 28. Juni 1972, heute vor genau 47 Jahren, traf der FC Bayern als Tabellenführer am letzten Bundesligaspieltag auf den Zweitplatzierten FC Schalke 04…https://t.co/sk5kP6z7Yd pic.twitter.com/R5JGIq1uTW
— Kurt Landauer Stiftung (@Kurt_Landauer_) June 28, 2019
This squad featured club legends Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller at their peak.
Muller’s 40 goals that season, his most in a single campaign as a ?Bayern player, propelled the Bavarians to their second Bundesliga title.
26) Chelsea – 1984/85
This stripy blue affair was a dashing item that came at a fitting time after Chelsea were promoted back to the First Division in 1984.
The old ‘Le Coq Sportif’ logo on the chest of a fresh-faced Kerry Dixon is certainly a sight to behold.
25) PSG – 1995/96
These were the days before PSG spent more money on transfers than loaded tourists in Gucci on the Champs-Élysées.
However, Les Rouges et Bleu still found success in this tricolore-like strip, winning the 1996 Cup Winners’ Cup.
24) Juventus – 1996/97
This shirt advertises Mini Discs. “What are they?!”, I hear the younger readers among you cry. Surely you’ll recognise a certain Alessandro Del Piero though?
It does not get more 90s than Mini Discs. Lest we forget those tiny hallowed relics.
23) Cameroon – 1990
Cameroon and Roger Milla, coming out of retirement aged 38, shocked the world in 1990.
The Indomitable Lions beat world champions Argentina en route to the quarter-finals, where they narrowly lost to England thanks to two Gary Lineker penalties.
22) AFC Wimbledon – 1987/88
If Carlsberg did football shirts, they’d probably be the coolest in the world.
This shirt is a fitting symbol for the Crazy Gang who might have been more hectic than the intro to Quantum Jump’s ‘The Lone Ranger’. If you don’t already get that reference, put the song on and you’ll immediately see what I mean.
21) Manchester United – 2007/08
This was potentially Sir Alex Ferguson’s finest time as ?Manchester United boss, as he staved off heavy investment from Chelsea to win three successive Premier League titles and a Champions League.
This was the Rooney and Ronaldo partnership at its potent peak. The photobomb from
Park Ji-Sung above gets a ten for effort, too.
20) Blackburn Rovers – 1994/95
The previous generation’s Leicester City story, Blackburn Rovers sent shockwaves across the land when they pipped Manchester United to the title by a point.
Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton formed a scintillating strike-force, scoring 49 goals between them to propel Rovers to Premier League glory.
19) Newcastle United – 1981/82
If you need a reminder of how much football can impact a city, look no further than Newcastle United’s 1981/82 shirt.
Featuring the city’s Tyne Bridge landmark inside a star on a kit that has black and white stripes was an audacious move but it certainly looked the part!
18) Arsenal – 1991/92
Our next one is certainly the Marmite of football kits.
Many of you will love it, many of you will hate it, but all of you have an opinion on Arsenal’s
so-called ‘bruised banana’ away strip that was worn by the Gunners in 1991.
17) Milan – 2002/03
A great kit for Milan in 2002/03, which they made the most of by winning the Champions League that year, defeating Juventus on penalties at Old Trafford.
Alessandro Nesta and Paolo Maldini must surely be regarded as one of the best centre-back pairings of all-time, too.
16) Tottenham – 1994/95
As mentioned above, Spurs had a seriously tasty selection of kits for the 1994/95 season.
The shirt almost led ?Tottenham to glory but they were knocked out of the FA Cup at the
semi-final stage in a humbling 4-1 loss to Everton.
15) France – 1998
The World Cup in France 1998 was the Zinedine Zidane show, which he ran, directed and produced from midfield.
His two headers in the final helped France claim victory against a vaunted Brazil side to win their maiden World Cup on home turf. Zizou truly was unplayable on his day.
14) Liverpool – 2004-2006
Steven Gerrard led ?Liverpool to two of the most unlikely comebacks in their history to win the Champions League and FA Cup in this classic Carlsberg kit.
His strike in the 2006 FA Cup final to level the score just as five minutes of injury time were announced is one that will be cherished by the Kop forevermore.
13) Barcelona – 1998-2000
Rivaldo at his peak in go-fast red and blue stripes is all that’s needed for the inclusion of this kit.
The Brazilian forward’s presence at the Camp Nou for five years made this jersey unforgettable. Unfortunately, he was never quite the same player after an unsuccessful stint at Milan.
12) The Netherlands – 1988
The Netherlands made total football a joy to watch on their way to winning Euro 1988.
Gullit. Van Basten. Rijkaard. Koeman. An eye-catching list of names that lived up to their billing with their on-field performances whilst somehow wearing three different shades of orange.
11) Napoli – 1986/87
So impactful was Diego Maradona at Napoli that his no.10 is now retired at the club.
Throughout an illustrious career, it is perhaps his spell in Naples that will evoke the most lucid memories, as the Argentine legend scored 81 goals in 188 appearances for the club.
10) Nigeria – 2018
Our top ten kicks off with a kit that would be described as an instant post-modern classic were it a Waterstones book review.
Taking inspiration from past designs, this electric green Nigeria shirt from last year’s World Cup was, understandably, an instant hit with football fans across the globe.
9) West Germany – 1990
This one won’t be popular with England fans but, whatever your allegiance, you have to tip your hat to the Warhol-esque design of this kit. It’s shimmering, smart and snazzy but most of all, it is a statement.
The goalkeeper kit is worth a mention too, bearing a close resemblance to the kaleidoscope effect on Photo Booth that makes you feel like you’re in an alternate reality.
8) Real Madrid – 2001-2003
The Galactico era. Zidane, Figo and Ronaldo in the same team? Almost unsportsmanlike.
Importantly, Zidane made the most of the excellent players around him with one of the greatest strikes of the 21st century so far, to secure ?Los Blancos’ ninth European Cup at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen.
7) Barcelona – 2004-2006
The Galacticos give way to the sexy samba magic of Ronaldinho. This man made David Seaman, one of England’s greatest ever goalkeepers, look like a sub-par Sunday League player with a game-altering free-kick at the World Cup in 2002.
The ?Blaugrana won back-to-back league titles and the
6) Liverpool – 1987/88
*You can’t go slow or fast but do it at the right time*. Here is the legendary John Barnes putting his lyrics into action in an even more legendary kit that was one of football’s most recognisable partnerships.
With Crown Paints as their sponsor between 1982 and 1988, Liverpool dominated the English game, winning four league titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup.
5) Arsenal – 2002-2004
Records were broken and history was made. So impressive was this ?Arsenal side that such heights may never be reached again in the Premier League. After all, the last team to go a season unbeaten before the Gunners in 2004 were Preston North End, in 1889.
When Thierry Henry pulled his trademark Nike gloves on, with long sleeves to boot, you knew the game was over if he was in the mood.
4) Manchester United – 1993-1995
Apart from the fact that this shirt featured in one of the most ugly moments ever to have graced English football, when Eric Cantona launched a kung-fu kick at Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons, who hurled abuse at the Frenchman after he was sent off for a reckless tackle.
The incident aside, it was a wonderful strip that Manchester United fans will have fond memories of, as the Red Devils won the double in 1993/94.
3) Brazil – 1970
Two legends of football celebrating a World Cup win in a plain, yet impactful kit. The kit made such an impression, for it was worn by a team that Pele himself has labelled as the greatest team of all time.
It is difficult to contest that statement, the team containing an unrivalled attacking quartet of Pele, Jairzinho, Tostao and Rivellino.
2) Italy – 1990
The 1990 World Cup was widely criticised for the negative defensive mindset that many teams employed which led to an average of only two goals per game, yet it is a tournament that many will still vividly remember.
However, the Italians inspired a generation with their fast, flowing and flamboyant attacking play. The Azzurri’s success on home turf led to an unseen level of interest in the Italian game for the next decade.
1) England – 1966
Could it really have been anything else to top the list?
In a list of iconic kits that showcase and complement equally iconic moments, it is only fair that England’s World Cup triumph of 1966 takes the coveted number one spot.
Now more than 50 years of hurt for English fans, which would have been 12 months of joy you wouldn’t have been able to avoid. If only ?Harry Kane had scored a sitter at 1-0. What could have been…